Monday, November 30, 2015


A penguin could eat well in Daytona Beach, lots of fresh seafood around.  That area has great shrimp (prawns), scallops, sea bass and red snapper.  Some really good stuff.  I am always surprised to find Cod and Salmon on a menu in Florida as fresh fish, those are cold water fish from hundreds or thousands of miles away.  There are local oysters, not bad fried.  For fresh raw oysters, I prefer colder water.  Pacific coast oysters have more flavor - and are best when on the west coast.

Or a bird could struggle to eat well in Daytona, with these discriminatory signs.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Writing On The Road

The blog waits for no one, I try to write ahead and schedule so that I have something everyday, at the moment I am only 2 days ahead.  If something comes up, I can write and shuffle the schedule. I have been on the road for 8 nights, so I have had to write and post from on the road.   

A lot of the blog pictures are taken with my phone, I carry I nice digital camera and sometimes take two shots, so I have one on the phone.  The pictures from my phone load automatically into blogger.  Ah, that makes it easier.  

I sometimes blog on my phone, it works, but the tiny keyboard has a lot a lot of limitations.  Most often when I travel I use a Samsung Chrome Book.  A Chrome book is a very simple laptop, that runs the Chrome operating system and uses apps.  My Chrome book is an 11 inch, about three years old.  It was cheap - around $200, has good battery life, and connects easily to WiFi (it is useless without a WiFi connection.)  Most of the time, I just shut the cover and go - when I open the cover, it comes to life in seconds.  From a full shut down, it loads updates and starts in less than 20 seconds.  Because it is limited in what it does, it does it does well and runs fast.  I can print from it via google cloud print to my printer at home.  

I kind of beat the crap out of it, and it keeps going and going.  I love it. I will buy another one when this one dies. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Back Home Again

Daytona Beach, Florida - the Worlds Most Famous Beach

Where is home, is a complicated question for me.  I was born in Michigan, I have lived in five states.  I own homes in two states.  I live in the mid-Atlantic,  but parts of my being are rooted firmly in the south east.  I lived in Florida for almost 20 years.  I grew to love the mossy parts, the swampy parts and the Atlantic coast.  I instantly feel at home.  I am comfortable stopping in local Florida places, despite the fact that I drive a car with northern plates, and have lost most of my southern drawl (if I work at it, I can turn it back on.)

I can read the seasons of the south, the color of the sky, the mood of the waters.  I understand southern food - cooked long and slow - the slower pace of life.  Today I return from the south that is the home to my heart, to the home I currently live in. Where I currently live in Virginia just outside of Washington DC, is a clash of cultures, it is where east coast aggression, meets southern gentility.  Far enough south to feel a little like home, and far enough north to remind me that it is someplace different.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Ten Things

 Ten things I have done in my life.

  1. Competed in the US National Sprint Triathlon Championship race (20+ years and about 100 pounds ago.) 
  2. Finished my BA in the top 10% of my class
  3. Finished my JD in the top 10% of my class 
  4. Heard the Pope do his Sunday morning routine in St Peters Square 
  5. Attended a private party in the Gateway Arch in St Louis 
  6. Finished two half marathons 
  7. Supervised building a home for myself 
  8. Attended a tea party with the Archbishop of Canterbury
  9. Passed the bar exam 
  10. Driven over 100 miles per hour (legally.)  

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

It has been an unusually challenging year.  I have much to be thankful for.

I hope you are surrounded by love and acceptance on this special day.

Thank you to all of my readers (both of you!) for sticking with me this year.  Let's see what adventures the next year brings.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Great Beach Weather

70 degrees and light rain.  Ah, no crowds, no worry about getting sun burned.  Reports of snow in the midwest and light rain in Florida,  I kind of get why people want to live here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How to they get people to live here?

I was passing through South Carolina and central Georgia the other day and thinking to myself, how do they get people to live here?  You'd have to pay me, pay me a very large amount of money, to get me to do anything more then pass through.  We stopped for lunch, and I am looking at the attentive staff and thinking, why are they here, why haven't they fled?  I wonder if they have not seen the opportunities that exist in more developed parts of the world - like Tijuana.  Even if you want to live in a rural area, why be so far from the modern world.  We passed an outlet mall with a packed parking lot, a rare sight, the outlet world was over built and most have failed.  We asked, why, think about it, there is no other place to shop for 150 miles.  

Monday, November 23, 2015

Chance Encounters

The things that people remember always surprise me.  Something I said long ago, some little thing I did, something I wrote and long ago forgot.  I have a chance encounter with people and they remember something I long ago forgot.  A dozen years ago I published a silly article about reporting outcomes arguing that it is not what you say, it is how you say it. I published it because I was angry about someone not valuing my work, someone I mt in a chance encounter, and the journal editor was desperate for a few pages to fill out the next issue. At least once a year, I run into someone who is still citing to that silly thing.

A chance encounter pushed me to write what was essentially a rant, and every year in a chance encounter someone reminds me of it, and tells me how it changed their thinking about their work.

What chance encounter will I have today that will lead to others down the road.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Get Away To The Adventures

Can a trip I have made 50 times still be an adventure?  I can remember the second time I went to Florida, I was about 14, and very-very excited. The first time I was about 3 - and I don't remember that trip.  I remember seeing oranges growing in someone's front yard, palm trees and my first view of the Gulf of Mexico (I don't think we made it to the Atlantic that trip.)  We went to Walt Disney World that trip, the Magic Kingdom had only been open for a few months.  With in a couple of years, my family was wintering in Florida, I was making the trip at least once sometimes twice a year.  I moved there and lived there for almost 20 years, then moved away.  And started going back to Florida several times a year.  It has grown routine.  Nothing that I get excited about.  I can be packed and on my way in 30 minutes or less, driving or flying and renting a car I don't need a map or GPS, I know the way.

It always surprises me when I talk to someone who is all excited about a trip to Florida.  Sometimes their first trip, sometimes their 20th, and they are all excited. Oh well. Been there, and ready to go back anytime, but not the highlight of my life.

And yet, I still find adventure.  There are things to see and do, the sights and smells of the semi tropics. Travel is always a change from the day to day routine, into a new routine, even in familiar places it is a change of landscape.  Maybe, I'll see alligators this trip.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Lady, close your blinds

There is a Victoria's Secret store in the lobby of the office building I work in.  I walk past the window display everyday on my way in and out.  The Christmas display is models in Victoria's not so secret sitting in open windows.  First they should be cold, there is snow on the window sill. Second, I want to should "lady, close your blinds!"

Does being exposed to this on a daily basis constitute a hostile work environment?  

Friday, November 20, 2015



So, 2015 has been a busy and challenging year.  I have been running to keep up or catch up most of the year.  Every time I think I getting caught up, and other project appears, or more silly problems pop up.  

When I am super stressed, I get grumpy, when I am grumpy every bump in the road, becomes a mountain to overcome.  Things that should take five minutes to resolve, take half a day.  I have let this happen a lot over the past two weeks.  Days wasted in frustration - creating more frustration as things take longer than they should to resolve.  Recognizing that this is happening, will help me to break the silly cycle.  

I live a busy life, I frequently have several projects going on at the same time.  Like the bike above, as soon as I finish one job, I start on the next.  This bike did not become the busiest by spending all of it's time on one job, but by starting the next one without a lot of idle time between jobs.  That is how I need to work. 

I have a busy week, then I am taking a weeks' break for Thanksgiving.  I am ready for and need the break. December will see me finishing the last past due project from last summer's unexpected time off, and starting a new and exciting project, a major research project funded by a leading foundation.  18 months to gather information from 35,000 hospital docs.  

Thursday, November 19, 2015


There are people who hate us, who would like to destroy us based on who we are.  They struck in Paris last weekend, how profoundly sad.  Hate, masked as religion.  It is truly tragic.  And it appears that at least one of the criminals slipped into France as a refugee along with thousands of others.

I have never had to flee my home in fear of war, or threats to my safety.  I don't understand what it is like to be a true refugee.  My grandmother's family left England on the eve of World War I, they never talked about it and were all gone before I connected the dates to ask.  How sad.  Many of our ancestors came here as refugees, others fleeing poverty. The great melting pot of America was filled with people in search of a better life.

At last count 18 states have declared that they won't take in an Syrian refugees who are Muslim.   Ah, sorry, but immigration enforcement is done at the Federal level.  No state requires a passport for entry. States can't refuse to let someone cross the boarder based on national origin or religion.  Some of the more enlightened idiot governors have said, they will simply refuse to use government resources to help Syrian or Muslim refugees.  Um, the Civil Rights Act makes that illegal to discriminate based on religion or national origin.  If the state spends a penny and discriminates based on a protected class, they will be successfully sued.  It is stupid, hate filled political rhetoric, kind of like the hate filled rhetoric we are afraid of.

It is time to get religion out of politics.  The United States was not founded as a Christian nation, it was founded as a place of free exercise, including the non-exercise of religion. While the founders were primarily christian, there were also Jews, agnostics, atheists and others who fled here.  Don't forget, it was illegal in many states to be Catholic, until independence.  The founders knew all too well the toll that mixing religion and politics could cause.  When we read about the many wives of Henry the VIII, we tend to focus on the wives, the sex and the quest for an heir, what we overlook is the turmoil that changing a state religion caused.  It was a social disaster.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


G_O_A_L!!!!!!  My goal for this year was to post 365 new blog postings, an average of one per day, and blogger tells me this is posting number 365 for the year.  Oh, and there are 40-some days left in the year.  Hum, I guess I have double posted that many times.  I have only missed one day of not posting at least once per day, back in February.  Sorry!  I plan to stick with it and post once per day through the end of the year.  At the moment I am not very far ahead, so I need to keep taking pictures and thinking of something to write about.  

Should I do this again next year?   

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A nice Wander

I like a nice aimless wander about. This likely started when I was home on the farm as a teenager.  After school there was not much around, I would walk down through the big field, along the edge by the trees to the woods, then along the edge of the trees to the pond, looking to see what was happening, what was growing, what was decomposing in the underbrush.  It was a pleasant way to spend an hour. I went through a couple of decades of being so driven that even a walk in the park had an agenda and goal.  Over the past few years I have mellowed out, slowed down, back to a enjoying a wonder just for the awe and wonder of what I might see.

The park above looks like a nice place to wonder, it is in the center of Paris, no I am not sure which park.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Oh My!

I started to write a post about being grumpy as an old Norse god, and then I looked at this picture of an old Norse something -or- other that I took in Iceland and went - W H A T  The 6ell is he doing?  It looks like, well it looks like he is spending quality time with the person he is most familiar with.  Happy old statue and not shy either.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Our Neighbors to the North

I can remember as a child my grandmother and great-grandmother going to Canada for lunch and shopping.  There were more traditional British goods easily available so they would slip over and do shopping that reminded them of home.

This was long before passports were required.  The Canadians seldom asked anything other then how long are you going to stay, but to get back into the USA they asked where you where born and if there was a question, you needed some evidence that you had a right to enter the USA.  My grandmother who was born in London, but largely raised in the USA, would lie and say she was born in Toledo.  She would identify my great-grandmother as her mother and they never asked where she was from - Swansea in Wales.  My Grandmother became a naturalized citizen in the 1960's  - she had been in the US since a week after the Titanic went down.  I don't know as my great-grandmother every cleared up the paperwork.

The last couple of times I drove into Canada, the Canadians spent 2-seconds looking at my passport and 3 minutes asking me where my guns were.  (Easy answer, home where they belong.)  Getting back into the USA always involves being asked what you bought and how much you spent.  About 10-years ago my parents were coming back from having lunch and buying some over the counter medications in Canada, that were not over the counter in the USA, and my mother responded to the nice officer that they had been in Canada to "buy drugs." They spent 2 hours waiting to explain that one the boss - who waived them away when they showed him that they had bought Claritin-D.

Getting back into the USA with a passport is easier.  This year I enrolled in Global Entry, yes I gave them all of my personal information, let them do a back ground check, fingerprint and take my picture.  I figure they know more about me than I do.  It speeds up getting back into the USA, no forms to fill out, just answer the questions on the ATM and scan my finger prints and take a picture.  Well worth it for the express lane home.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Light and Goodness, will overcome darkness and evil in the City of Light. Stand Strong in Paris

Friday, November 13, 2015

I Need Help

As adults we are use to doing things for ourselves.  Some things we are better at than we are at others.  I am much better at cooking than I am at cleaning. There are a few things I just can't do, I need help.  Properly trimming my toe nails is one.  For a combination of reasons I don't have the flexibility to do it properly, I can hack them off to keep from pushing through my socks, but I can't get close enough for proper trim.  So I have discovered the joys of a proper pedicure.  Oh my, it is nice being taken care of.  What else can't I do?

What do you need help with?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

You knew there would be sheep

8 years ago last summer, we spent a week in Yorkshire with old friends of ours Duncan and Stephen and we were captivated by the sheep.  They are such simple, warm fuzzy creatures.  Who wouldn't love them.   Stephen's mother even gave me some pointers om cooking lamb.

I grew up in a lamb free house.  My mother's family tried raising sheep when she was a child, it was not a good experience, she said you look at them cross eyed and they die. No one, not even my English grandmother knew how to cook lamb.  Our house was a lamb free zone.

So when we are traveling we are always on the look out for sheep. The flock above is out at Mt Vernon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wild Rides

Let's be honest, much of our lives are pretty boring.  We eat sleep, shower, commute and work much of the time.  It takes a lot to interrupt our routine, maybe twice a year the weather will shake up my day to day, but unless I can't get to the office, the weather hardly changes what I wear, let alone what I do on a day to day basis.

Working in Washington DC, once or twice a year I get to see, sometimes even meet, high level politicians.  Hearing Hillary or the Vice President speak is a bit of a thrill, a nice wild ride to spice up the day.  I produce some fun programing, and it is nice to see the finished product, though usually I am so stressed that I don't see what we have done until it is over.  I am not good at stopping to savor the moment.

I am back riding bikes, riding in DC can be great fun.  Last Friday I slipped out of the office a few minutes early, grabbed a bike-share bike and rode the monuments on my way to the subway station. One morning last week, I was passing across the north side of the White House, when traffic was stopped, the motorcycles rumbled in, followed by both Presidential limos and the armored vans that follow; the President was returning to the office from an early meeting.

The experts on creativity say to challenge yourself by varying the routine.  Take a different route to or from work, at least once a week do something you have not done before, stop in a store you have not been in, visit a museum or gallery, try something different for lunch, or buy one exotic ingredient at the grocery store. These little things add up.

What will you do this week, that you don't normally do?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

New Mexico

Maybe it was two trips to the desert southwest as a very young child,  but I have always feel instantly at home in the high desert. I love the light, color and tone of the landscape. I truly understand the pull of the landscape for O'Keefe and Adams.  Yes, the autumn leaves of the north are pretty, but they only last a month (at most.)  

Monday, November 09, 2015

Balls Out

The device in the picture is a speed regulator for steam powered machines.  As the machine ran, the top spins, as it spins the the steel balls are forced out by centrifugal force. That pushes down on on the center rod, that closed the valve letting steam into the machine.  The speed of the machine could be adjusted by how far down the rod had to be pushed to close the valve. When the machine was spinning at top speed, the Balls were Out, hence full speed was said to be balls out.  Nothing to do with male anatomy.

I am fascinated by steam operated machines.  You can see how they work, all of the external parts moving back and forth, in and out, around and round. This example is in the machine room for Tower Bridge in London.

Sunday, November 08, 2015


I like bears, big and warm and fuzzy and grumpy.  Kind of like me.  I have seen a few of the four footed variety in the wild - that is a real thrill.  I'd much sooner see them in the wild than in a cage. They don't really make good house pets.  I have met a good number of the two legged variety.  I have never been to a bear gathering - but I likely would feel welcome in the crowd.

Florida recently allowed bear hunting for the first time in decades. Allowing the hunt was in part a reaction to a few yankees finding bears taking out their garbage, lolling in a tree, or taking a dip in the pool and people panic and say kill the bears. The hunting community is always looking for sport. I think we should arm the bears and let them shoot back - that would make it real sport.  The bears almost always lose on these deals, man kills a hell of a lot more bears, than bears kill people.  We need to level that playing field.  Maybe if the bears were the size of Big Blue above.
If you have seen Big Blue in the picture above, leave the location in the comments below.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Auto Biography

Spo raised the issue of biography, should we write our life stories. Are our blogs biography?  Should anyone under the age of 70 write a biography? I probably never will, too boring, too frightening and who would want to read it?

If I did there would have to be a chapter about my growing up on the farm, a kind of a funny farm, in the middle of nowhere.  I'd have to write about the early years, airplane parts in the garage and spending most of the first grade in Phoenix.  My high school years are a real challenge - my family was wintering in Florida - I changed schools a lot.  I would need to talk professional photography, and why I didn't end up doing that for a lifetime.  Then there was the chance meeting at McDonalds that resulted in me working in the homebuilding industry for 15 years.  Then there was seduction, hiding, marriage, unhappiness, my gym bunny years, overwork, divorce, coming out and finding true love and happiness.  Then there was graduate school, in my late 30's, then a long job, then jumping to another job.  There are lots of travels, but the blog covers those.  And my little health issues this year - but who wants to read about that drivel?  I have had an interesting life, but unless Spo is looking for a cure for insomnia, I won't write about it.

Friday, November 06, 2015

First Time For Everything

John Gray over at Going Gently started this one talking about significant firsts in his life.

  • My first glimpse of the Grand Canyon, is one of my earliest memories, I was about 6. Yes it is that spectacular of a hole in the ground.  
  • First plane flight, would be before I was born, my father learned to fly a few years before I was born,  My mother got airsick, so they didn't travel much by air. 
  • First airline flight, was to Florida to drive my Grandmother to Michigan, after my great grandmother fell and broke a hip, I was 17. 
  • First bush plane flight, was Anchorage to Mt. Denali about 10 years ago.  
  • First Zeppelin ride, August 22nd, 2015. 
  • Losing my virginity - I was 20 and she was 40 - I was seduced by the wife of a client. 
  • Losing my virginity part 2, about 10 years later, a professional acquaintance - he was much more fun. 
  • First trip to Europe, London in May of 1990. 
  • First house I purchased, Dobbin Drive in Orlando in 1982, with a bargain 13.5% mortgage, I sold it 18 months later and made money on it.   
  • Earliest memory, my father and a friend recovering the wings of an airplane in our garage, the smell of lacquer thinner triggers this one, I was 4 or 5.
  • First real camera, a Konica T-3, February 14, 1974. 
  • First ride on a professional road racing bike, May 1999, a Trek 1200 Aluminum.  I bought it on the spot, I still own it.  It is frighteningly fast.   
  • First minor surgery, I was 17, the doctor sliced into a cyst on the side of my face and said "oops."  A second doctor finished the job about 9 months later.  One thing you never want to hear a doctor say is "oops!" 
  • First major surgery, May 13, 2015.  I have talked enough about my schwannoma. 
  • First car I owned, a 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royal Coupe, I bought in 1977.  The trunk leaked from the first day I owned it.  
  • First new - new car, a 1982 Renault Le Car.  It was cheap, had a sunroof and the coldest air conditioning of any car I have owned, I kept it little more than a year 
  • First death of someone close to me, my paternal grandfather when I was 18, my maternal grandfather died 8 weeks later.  

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Back to the Past

When I moved here, I bought a membership at Mt Vernon.  I live a 15 minute drive - a pretty drive along the Potomac from Mt Vernon, and enjoy a nice walk about on the grounds.  Over a year ago, I let the membership expire, but I am once again comfortable with the walk.  So this week I renewed.  My goal is to go at least once a month and walk the grounds, take a few pictures.  Membership also gets me invited to special events and I can cut in line anytime for tours of the house.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Holiday Plans?

Holiday Plans anyone?  Now is the time to finalize your travel plans, the longer you wait the more it will cost.  Shopping, why haven't I started my shopping.  Traditional mixed tree, or theme tree this year?  Should we put up special lights on the terrace this year?

For the first time since I have owned the condo, J will be here to help with Christmas plans and decorations.  I plan to give him free reign to do what ever he wants.  The tree and decorations are down in the storage room, Target down the street will have anything we want to add.  Knock yourself out big guy.

Thanksgiving will be at Mom and Dad's.  I have two hotel reservations left to make for that trip - sounds like a good thing to do next.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Putting out fires

I start off most work days with a plan for what I am going to get done, one major project or another, a research item, and article I need to finish, a report that is due - is normally the agenda of the day.  Then I look at email, and my phone rings.  One thing or another pops up, usually little meaningless fires that have to be dealt with, all to often someone's mistake that I have to apologize for and try to make right.  Somedays I spend my entire day cleaning up the little messes, putting out the little fires.

Maybe I should:

  • Not look at email until after lunch
  • Let all calls go to voice mail 
  • Put an auto response on my email that I won the lottery or was run over by a bus and to fix it yourself 
  • Get a bigger fire boat 
  • Try Gullivers method of putting out fires 

Monday, November 02, 2015

Can you see me now?

Around the time I started taking pictures with a digital camera, I discovered a site called The Mirror Project , that posted reflected images - self portraits of our reflected life.  I submitted weekly for several months and most of my submissions were posted, then sadly and suddenly the site stopped updating.  I stumbled across this image that I had created for The Mirror Project and did a quick search.  Some of the archives have been recovered, but apparently the server crashed (quite literally) in 2006 and The Mirror Project came to an end.

I enjoyed the themed work.  There were guidelines, the photographer had to be visible in someway in the reflected image, as I recall only one per week, and the images had to be approved by the host of the site. You could appeal a no, but seldom did.

Does my blog reflect my life as a self portrait?

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Chicago in Chicago - Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is [Charter O...

No secret that I hate the change in time, this is the perfect song for today in the USA.

Corinth Canal

Periodically pictures will show up on Facebook of a very large ship in a very narrow canal, and I always think, I have been there.  It is the Corinth Canal.  several attempts were made in antiquity to cut a canal through, breaking the rocks by burning hot fires and quenching them with water, but it proved to much, 4 miles long and cut into solid stone, the canal was not finished until the late 1800's with the use of explosives.

We weren't looking for the canal, we were headed to the archeological site at Corinth. Our hosts (and a guest at our recent wedding) had a graduate student sifting for pottery fragments at Corinth that season.  We drove across a bridge, a couple of us gasped, and Kent pulled over at the tourist zone just across the bridge and we walked back onto the pedestrian ways on the bridge.

Sometimes the most amazing sights are what you pass along the way to your destination.  

Ideas for a regenerative day

Okay, I will admit it, I over did it in October, to much much work, not enough saying no thank you.  I was in a meeting this week and a conversation was going on down the table about a project I have been involved in for years, the one thing I said "sorry, but not this year" to recently and experienced a quick shower of emotions, panic that I had missed something, neglect for not being in the loop this year, then relief when I realized that I am not on that planning committee because I asked for a year off.

I have a free weekend, I need to rest and regenerate.

1: Have no goals or things that need to be done or must be done.  Impossible, I have to unpack and do laundry - but that is a minor thing.  Hubby went out of his way to restock the larder so I don't have to do my weekend shopping runs.

2: Do what makes you feel good.  Treat yourself to the little things that you enjoy.

3: At some point I will get our of the house this weekend, I / we should go and do something we don't normally do.  Do I hear Ikea calling? Or Mt Vernon?

4: Forget time and schedules.  One of my roles on Thursday and Friday was as the time cop, getting sessions started on time and ended on time.  It is amazing that a panel of three lawyers will set there and wait for someone to come in and tell them "time to get started" - don't they know what time it is?

5:  Sleep late, take a nap, take a long shower, maybe if I am feeling really adventurous go out for a pedicure - my nails need trimming and my heels are drying out.